Tobold's Blog
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Solarian Tactics Review

Solarian Tactics by haiku games is a fun little turn-based tactics game for the iOS. It costs only $2.99, no in-app purchases, but I got a review copy for free. What makes this game special is that it is "entry-level" difficulty. There aren't many of those games around, as turn-based strategy games have become somewhat niche, and many of the few games there are have been made for hardcore veterans. Solarian Tactics might be too easy for the hardcore, I played it through in one weekend. But for everybody else this is quite a good game.

There are 35 missions in this game, each unlocking the next one. But you can always go back an play through missions you already won. Both old and new missions earn you xp and levels, as well as gold for unlocking various abilities called "augments". Thus if a mission turns out to be too difficult for you, you can always do a couple of old missions to get stronger before trying again. The enemy is controlled by a decent AI, there is no multi-player. I prefer it that way, I found games like Hero Academy where you have to wait hours sometimes for your opponent to move not very engaging.

You start out with two characters, a rogue-type melee damage dealer and ranged damage dealer. Over the missions you pick up three more characters, a tank, and two characters able to move enemies around, one by pushing, one by pulling. The 5x9 squares battle maps are often crowded with obstacles, so that moving the enemy into position can make the difference. Levels unlock new augments that can be bought, which give new abilities to the characters.

The story and graphics are okay, but not really special. It really depends whether you like cartoonish Sci-Fi or not. But the tactical gameplay is solid, and not overly difficult. Even players new to the genre should be able to play this, while people with more strategy experience get through the game faster because they need less replays of old missions to succeed. For $2.99 with no additional hidden cost involved, the price is right for the amount of game you get.

The only thing that bothered me was that after I won the last mission I could only continue to play with my powerful group, but couldn't find an option to restart at level 1. I'm sure I can fix that by simply re-installing the game, but a reset option would have been nice.

Sounds nice, though it seems to be only iOS so I can't play it.

I'm not sure I agree with you about difficulty. It's good that there is an 'entry level', but what's wrong with having options from easy to nightmare as most games do?
Well, if you never redo an old mission, this one gets hard fast enough. I was more talking about there not being a million different units and such.
Speaking as someone who has tried to get into the genre but never really got the hang of the current crop, I think Tobold is right here. Tactical games (both turn-based and RTS) suffer from a bad case of grognard capture these days; even the "easy" setting of most of the current games is too hard for a total beginner.

I'll be giving Solarian Tactics a go; thanks for the review.

Perhaps you should have said complexity instead of difficulty, Tobold =P

It certainly is strange to see a strategy game where you have, what, 5 units permanently? It feels like the only people who make strategy games are grognards who love as much complexity as humanly possible. If it wasn't for iOS I might give it a shot.
It's the developer here. Thanks for the review! In future updates we're thinking of the best way to let players adjust difficulty (perhaps with optional bonus missions).
I bought it, well worth $3. I look forward to updates. Thanks for sharing.
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